xvo- Amazing facts about it

Being academically adept but lacking in decisiveness and power, King Louis XVO was the last monarch of France before the monarchy was overthrown by the revolution in 1789. His reign has frequently been characterized as one of corruption, luxury, and a lack of concern for his subjects. However, this characterization of Louis’ reign in black and white ignores the difficult circumstances of the monarchy he inherited, the state of world politics, and the effects of Enlightenment ideals on the general populace. When he became king in 1770, revolution and the guillotine were far from imminent.

The second son of the Dauphin, Louis-Auguste of France, was born on August 23, 1754. He was born with the title Duc de Berry and quickly demonstrated his brilliance intellectually and physically, while being a very shy person. The 11-year-old Louis-Auguste became the new dauphin and his life altered quickly following the deaths of his father in 1765 and his older brother in 1761. In an effort to mold him into a future king of France, a severe new governor was appointed for him, and his educational program underwent significant alteration.

Reform in the French government

When Louis married Marie Antoinette in 1770, he was just 15 years old. This union solidified the Austro-French alliance, which was losing favour with the populace. The young royal couple were almost strangers when they got married and both were naturally reserved. It took them a number of years to actually get married, which attracted a lot of attention and caused conflict. Louis XVO and Marie Antoinette had four children despite some early difficulties in the bedroom; the youngest, Sophie-Hélène-Béatrix, passed away infancy, leaving the parents reportedly devastated. In addition to raising their own offspring, the royal couple carried on the custom of “adopting” orphans.

The new Louis XVO made an effort to change France’s foreign, economical, and religious policies in line with the Enlightenment ideologies that were permeating all of Europe. The Edict of Versailles, which he signed in 1787 and is also referred to as the Edict of Tolerance, granted non-Catholics in France both civil and legal status as well as the freedom to practise their religions. In an effort to reduce France’s debt, he also tried to put more drastic financial reforms into place, such as new taxing methods. The lords and parliament blocked these. Few were aware of the terrible financial state the Crown was in, and succeeding ministers battled to make the nation’s finances better.

Estates-General

The Estates-General was a legislative and consultative body made up of delegates from the three French estates; it was historically employed as the king’s advisory body while having no formal authority of its own. The Estates-General were called before Louis in 1789, which was the first time since 1614. This turned out to be a bit of an oversight. Forced fiscal reform attempts utterly failed. Ordinary citizens who made up the Third Estate proclaimed themselves to be a National Assembly and vowed not to leave until France had a constitution.

Living in the Palace of Versailles, Louis XVO and Marie Antoinette led a life of luxury. Sheltered and alone, they saw and learned little about what life was like for the millions of common people in France at the time. Louis did little to allay or comprehend the complaints individuals made as unhappiness increased.

Particularly infuriating to people was Marie Antoinette’s extravagant, expensive lifestyle. She was charged with taking part in a conspiracy to swindle jewelers of an incredibly valuable diamond necklace in The Diamond Necklace Affair (1784-5). Despite the fact that she was declared innocent, the scandal severely tarnished both her and the royal family’s reputations.

On October 5, 1789, an irate mob attacked the Palace of Versailles. The royal family was taken prisoner and sent to Paris, where they were made to accede to their new positions as constitutional kings. As they negotiated the future structure of the French government, they were essentially at the whim of the revolutionaries. After nearly two years of discussions, Louis and his family made an attempt to evacuate Paris for Varennes in the belief that they could gather enough support there to leave France and bring about the monarchy’s restoration and put an end to the revolution.

Revolution

During the early years of his rule, reforms to the French government in line with Enlightenment principles were made. These included initiatives to end serfdom, get rid of the taille and corvée labor taxes, be more tolerant of non-Catholics, and end the death penalty for deserters.  The proposed reforms were met with resistance by the French nobles, who successfully prevented their implementation. Turgot, Louis’ economic liberal minister, had pushed for deregulation of the grain market, which he eventually did, although also raised the price of bread. It resulted in food shortages during periods of poor harvests, which, during a particularly terrible harvest in 1775, sparked a popular uprising.

 

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